This marks the 10th year for Walk Kansas, a statewide fitness challenge coordinated by K-State Research and Extension. Teams are forming now for the eight-week challenge that starts March 13 and concludes on May 7, said Donna Krug at the Barton County Extension office.
The goal of each six-person team is to get active, by walking or other exercise. Members log their minutes of exercise, which are converted to miles. Fifteen minutes of moderate and/or vigorous activity counts as one Walk Kansas mile. Collectively, teams try to walk 423 miles, or the distance across the state of Kansas.
This year, teams can choose an optional challenge, which is to walk 1,200 miles — or the distance around the perimeter of the state. Walking around the state will require about six hours of activity per week from each team member, but a few teams have reached that goal in previous years, Krug said.
The traditional goal requires everyone to exercise about two and a half hours a week, on average.
"People are really getting into it!" Krug said of the annual challenge. "When you go into the grocery store, you see people with their Walk Kansas T-shirts on."
Local coordinators would like teams to turn in their registration materials by the first part of next week, Krug said. The cost is $3 per person. Packets can be picked up at the Extension Office, 1800 12th St. The Great Bend Recreation Commission also accepts registrations at its office, 1214 Stone St., but the Extension office is the where participants will pick up their Walk Kansas T-shirts, if they choose to buy them. This year’s shirts are available in K-state purple or paprika, and are $6 for adult sizes S-XL. Larger sizes are available through 3XL, at an additional cost.
Walk Kansas has become a popular program over the years, Krug said. "The idea is celebrating health, being healthy (and forming) healthy habits." She attributes its success to the teamwork and the camaraderie that comes with being on a team.
"We’d really like work sites in the county to put together a team or two," she said. Some teams design their own mini-challenges or group walks, while others are less structured. All that is really needed is a team captain who will log everyone’s minutes on a Walk Kansas website. Captains who aren’t Internet savvy can report their minutes to the Extension office, 620-793-1910. That’s also the number to call for more information.
A weekly newsletter will be available on the Barton County Extension website, www.barton.ksu.edu. The first issue is online now.